Health & Wellness

Relaxation Exercices Ease Grief

By Wendy Haaf

When US scientists set out to determine whether mindfulness meditation could ease grief, they got a surprise. While mindfulness helped, an easier-to-learn alternative — progressive relaxation exercises — proved more effective.

In the study, 94 adults experiencing grief following the death of a partner were assigned to one of two treatments lasting six weeks. All participants attended similar training sessions lasting 10 to 25 minutes: half took lessons in mindfulness meditation and half learned progressive relaxation exercises. (The latter involves tensing and releasing each of four major muscle groups in sequence, and then developing the ability to skip the tensing and simply relax the muscles at will.)

The two groups were compared with a third, made up of similar patients who’d been placed on a waiting list. Measurements taken over the study period and again a month after its conclusion showed that while grief severity dropped in all three groups, only the relaxation group experienced a significantly greater decline in grief compared to the no-treatment group.

Source: Meeting of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America 2022


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